SAO PAULO, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies firmed on Wednesday ahead of the end of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, when it is expected to offer new clues on when it will increase interest rates again. The U.S. central bank is expected to release its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) after a two-day meeting. Traders bet it will also announce it will embark on a reduction of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. The widely awaited move has been the source of much debate as inflation remains far below the Fed's 2 percent goal despite signs of strength in the labor market. For years, high-yielding emerging market currencies have lured investors who grappled with low interest rates meant to accelerate the global economic recovery. The Brazilian real and the Chilean peso strengthened 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent on Wednesday, respectively, but trading volumes were thin as investors awaited the release of the Fed's policy statement. The Mexican peso jumped 0.8 percent, reversing losses seen on Tuesday after a powerful earthquake hit the country, killing at least 225 people. Stock trading resumed after a one-day suspension, with the Mexican BVM/S&P IPC stock index up 0.2 percent. Shares of cement maker Cemex led the gains. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index fell 0.6 percent, but Braskem shot up 5 percent to an all-time high on reports that the petrochemical company was considering merging its two classes of stocks into a single, common one.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1720 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change
MSCI Emerging Markets 1111.96 0.21 28.69 MSCI LatAm 2995.68 0.17 27.76 Brazil Bovespa 75518.32 -0.6 25.39 Mexico S&P/BVM IPC 50347.43 0.16 10.31 Chile IPSA 5223.68 0.42 25.83 Chile IGPA 26061.53 0.34 25.69 Argentina MerVal 24227.12 0.05 43.20 Colombia IGBC 11072.75 -0.76 9.33 Venezuela IBC 425758.25 -2.51 1242.86 Currencies daily % YTD % change change
Brazil real 3.1187 0.54 4.18 Mexico peso 17.6635 0.74 17.44 Chile peso 619.95 0.80 8.19 Colombia peso 2891.69 0.05 3.80 Peru sol 3.244 0.06 5.24 Argentina peso (interbank) 17.1450 0.03 -7.41 Argentina peso (parallel) 17.9 0.28 -6.03
(Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)